9 things you’ll learn about yourself when you’re abroad

Why go abroad? What’s all the fuss about? Going abroad can be an empowering and exciting adventure that will teach you as much about yourself as it will about a foreign country and culture. Being alone in a strange and foreign context will help you to discover how you like to travel, what you can handle and what is just too much. Achieving personal growth through the experience of living and interning abroad will also provide you with new insights about who you are as a professional and what kind of work you’re interested in pursuing.


The 9 things you’ll learn about yourself when you’re abroad:


1. The difference between your needs and wants

What you may want is to sit down and eat a meal that tastes like home, but what you need is dinner because you’re hungry and your blood sugar is wondering what’s up. Don’t confuse discomfort or inconvenience with actual problems. You’re abroad in order to have a new experience, which means occasionally living outside your comfort zone. That’s the only way you’ll grow. It may sound cold, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and put your best foot forward.


2. How to calm yourself down when you’re out of your element

When you come across a moment that really throws you off guard and you’re not sure what to do, take a deep breath and smile. Realize that you’re growing from the experience and doing something new means making uninformed and sometimes even wrong decisions. As long as you think things through and learn from your mistakes, be proud of yourself for making things happen.


3. How to be comfortable outside your comfort zone

Adventurous people aren’t just naturally unfazed by the world. They once threw themselves into unknown experiences and learned how to be comfortable in those seemingly terrifying situations. When you’re abroad you have the opportunity to push your limits with what you’re comfortable with and grow from that.


why go abroad


4. What you like and don’t like about your profession

An internship abroad offers the unique experience of test driving your career in a foreign country. Exploring your career interests is highly informative and pertinent to deciding what path you ultimately go down.


5. Where your limits are

You will constantly be testing your boundaries when you live abroad. Even though your comfort zone may grow, you’ll realize that you do have limitations and sometimes it’s important to say “no” to an experience in order to listen to yourself.


6. The ways you can nonverbally communicate

A lot can be said without words, which you’ll quickly discover if you’re living in a country where you don’t speak the native language. Being forced to get by with only facial expressions and hand gestures makes you more apt to deal with communication issues that you’ll come across in future personal and professional situations.


7. What you appreciate about home

After spending some time abroad you will come to miss and cherish the comforts that you have at home. You’ll be so much more appreciative of your favorite home cooked dish, your car, your cat… It’s good to be away from the things you love. You learn how much you truly value them.


why go abroad


8. How incredible you really are

You’ll have a newfound sense of empowerment and independence after living abroad. Learning to problem solve and succeed on your own in a foreign country will give you an extra spring in your step once you return home. You wanted to intern abroad and you did it, even though you may have come across some speed bumps along the way.


9. Why it’s important to laugh at yourself and be humble

Going abroad teaches you how to have a sense of humor about yourself. Possible tension from miscommunication and mix-ups can magically be diffused with appropriate lightheartedness, a smile or even a self-deprecating joke. It’s imperative to learn how to laugh at yourself.


Why go abroad and do an internship? To learn all of these things about yourself! Apply now and boost your confidence and your career!


Photo 1. based on Point the truth, by Phejt, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on Right, by Phejt, CC-by-2.0

Photo 3. based on 32/365, by chattygd, CC-by-2.0


The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

To learn how to apply to our internship programs, click here.


Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.
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